Koodankulam activist S P Udayakumar spoke at a press conference in New Delhi yesterday, strongly opposing the attempts to vilify anti-nuclear protests in India. Here is the press release issued by him –
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)
c/o Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP)
124 A/6, Katwaria Sarai
New Delhi 110 016
For Immediate Release
July 7, 2014
BJP Government’s Nuclear Policy Should Defend Our Democracy and Not Criminalize Dissent
There were speculations in some sections of the press that the new BJP government may put on the back-burner the previous UPA government’s plan to install 20 gigawatts of nuclear power capacity by 2020, and instead would focus on wind and solar to achieve energy security at least for the next two years. But the Modi government’s leaking an IB report on “development,” their signing the IAEA Additional Protocol, the high profile visits of John Kerry and John McCain, and Prime Minister Modi’s planned visits to Japan and the United States indicate that the above speculation may, after all, be our wishful thinking.
Although India does need more energy, we need to consider the issues of exorbitant cost, need for more land and fresh water, polluting our seas and hurting people’s food and nutrition security, dealing with nuclear waste and so forth. Most importantly, nuclear power plants put our people’s lives at great risk in our highly and densely populated country. It is high time we broke out of the UPA’s ‘nuclear slaves’ mentality and assert that Indians are indeed leaders in the international political arena and Indian life does have worth, meaning and value that cannot be compromised for the profit of the nuclear companies of the United States, Russia, France, Japan, South Korea and so on. Quite evidently, these countries want to sell us their nuclear technology but are not ready and willing to respect our life and honor our liability act and other regulations.
Indeed the BJP had opposed certain measures taken by the UPA government with regards to our nuclear policy, especially the dilution of the Nuclear Liability Act. It is our earnest hope and expectation that the Modi government does not duplicate the previous UPA government’s nuclear policy and put foreigners’ interests ahead of the interests of India and Indian citizens.
Just like any other department under the corrupt UPA government, the nuclear sector was also rampant with corruption, inefficiency and mismanagement. The Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) is a case in point. The KKNPP administration bought approximately 48 lakh liters of High Speed Diesel (HSD) for Rs. 26.6 crores) in just 11 months in 2013. In November 2013 alone, they bought HSD for 4.4 crores. Our queries and RTI petitions on the need for this much HSD for a nuclear power plant have gone unanswered. Similarly, the KKNPP administration has spent a whopping sum of 5.2 crores for medical treatment of their employees for just 17 months (from January 2013 to May 17, 2014). The KKNPP authorities are still spending enormous amounts of money on diesel purchase and medical treatment of their employees. This is only a tip of the iceberg and the BJP government would do well for the country if they could institute an inquiry into the corruption, inefficiency and wastefulness of the Department of Atomic Energy.
On May 14, 2014, there was an accident at the KKNPP Unit 1 and some six men were badly injured with 70 degree burns. The local people have been expressing our fears and concerns about having used shoddy and substandard equipment and parts in the KKNPP 1 and 2, demanding copies of the basic reports on the project and asking many more relevant safety-related questions. We have not received any of this information but have only invited charges of sedition and ‘waging war on the Indian State’ instead. The IB has leaked recently a “classified” document to the press in order to malign the names of a few leaders of people’s movements and public-spirited NGOs, and to intimidate those who would stand up and speak up against the government’s anti-Indian policies, programs and “development’ projects.
If our country is still a democratic republic and Indian life is deemed to have any worth and value, the Modi government should put a moratorium on all the new and planned nuclear power projects such as Koodankulam, Kalpakkam, Kovvada, Jaitapur, Mithi Virdi, Chutka, Banswada etc., and carry out an honest and thorough review of these projects including financial, environmental and social costs. They should also share all the basic reports on all of these projects with our people and have a national debate before we decide the future of nuclear energy in our country. Instead of carrying out a witch-hunt of the honest and well-meaning nuclear whistle-blowers, the BJP government should try to listen to the fears and concerns of our people and anti-nuclear protestors all over the country. Upholding our people’s democratic rights and entitlements, the BJP government should be sincere to our people’s interests, give them what they actually want and not dilute our national laws and regulations in order to placate the foreigners and their profiteering corporations.
The Press Meet is chaired by Chitranjan Singh, National Secretary, PUCL; S. P. Udayakumar, Coordinator of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE); Dayamani Barla, Adivasi leader from Jharkhand, Mi. Pa. Jesuraj, P. K. Sundaram, Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), Mildred, Malar, Avila, Initha, Pon Chandran and others.